Live, Laugh, & Love Exercise!

When I was a kid, I absolutely loved watching game shows on TV like “Wheel of Fortune” and “The Price is Right.” So, when my older sister was tricking me into doing her chores for her, she always knew that I’d fall for her turning the chore into a game. I may be revealing my age here, but my favorite game show was “Name That Tune,” where contestants would challenge each other to guess a song with just 2 or 3 notes of the song being played.  My sister became the very first host of our very own game show called, “Name That Kitchen!”  My sister would dare me to clean the kitchen in just under 2 or 3 minutes, so I would run around putting dishes in the cabinet and sweeping the floor while she was cheering me on to finish her chore for her…I mean, win the game!  Even though I was 4 years younger than my sister, I knew the trick she was playing on me, but I didn’t care! I just wanted the opportunity to play a game with my sister and hang out with her even for a few minutes, and even if that meant I had to get tricked into cleaning the kitchen for her. 

Nobody really likes cleaning the kitchen or any other chore for that matter, but it’s something that we all have to do once in a while in the course of every day life.  Many people think of exercise as a chore, and I agree that sometimes it can feel that way, just like cleaning the kitchen.  There are probably a lot of things that we do as matter of routine that we don’t necessarily enjoy like brushing our teeth, walking the dog, emptying the trash.  In the course of “adulting,” we perform a lot of chores that we hold ourselves responsible for. 

The human body is designed to move, but in a highly technological world, we humans are becoming more sedentary over time.  The value of regular physical activity cannot be emphasized enough, not only for weight management but for overall mental and physical health and well-being.  Engaging your muscles, exercising your heart and lungs, and improving your conditioning will provide huge benefits for losing weight, sustaining a healthy metabolism, and preventing weight regain.  In addition to weight benefits, regular exercise also lowers blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol levels.  

If exercise is not something that comes naturally to you, or maybe you feel self-conscious about working out, you may need some strategies that will help get the “chore” of exercise to be more comfortable and a normal part of your routine.  You may need to think of exercise differently and approach it from a different angle to make it work for you.  Even if you don’t learn to LOVE exercise, we hope at the very least you will come to accept exercise as a part of your normal routine and appreciate what it does for your weight and overall health.  Maybe you will even have a little bit of fun in the process! Here are some ideas and strategies to discover enjoyable ways to move your body!

Dance It Out!  – Using your favorite music as a motivator, dancing is something that can be done anywhere and anytime. Just dance like nobody’s watching and you will get your heart rate up and get your whole body moving to the beat of your favorite songs.  If you want to learn some new moves, try looking for a ZumbaJazzercise, or hip-hop class at your local gym or community center.  You could even gather some friends and go out on a Saturday night to a dance club for some physical fun!

Get Competitive. – If you’re like me and love challenging games, try to join a fitness challenge, or you could also create your own! For instance, create a daily step challenge with friends or co-workers, and you could offer a fun prize for the winner. You could create challenges for other exercises as well. For instance, challenge a partner to complete 50 chair squats on Monday, 50 wall push-ups on Tuesday, etc.  Fitness tracking apps like Map My Walk and Map My Fitness also have global challenges you can join along with others all over the world.

Turn chores into exercise. – Even though we may be thinking of exercise as our chore, maybe you could get some movement in while we’re doing other things. For instance, if you’re cleaning a room, set a timer and turn on some lively music to get your heart rate up while you’re cleaning up!  Get outdoors and mow the lawn or rake the leaves for some serious fat burning!  Other physically active chores include vacuuming, mopping, sweeping, dusting and scrubbing! If you gotta clean your house anyway, you may as well burn some fat while you’re at it! 

Socialize while you exercise! – If you love spending time with others, create an activity like a walking club or another group activity like shuffleboard or basketball.  You will get in some activity while keeping in touch with your friends, family, co-workers and/or neighbors.  This can help everyone get fit and healthy together and can really create a powerful support system for a new and healthier lifestyle.  

Plan an active date night. – Instead of just sitting in a movie or at a restaurant, try planning a date night with some movement and physical activity.  Try sightseeing in your own town, window shopping at a mall (or actual shopping!), walking in an area park, or playing tennis or pickleball.  You could try a bowling date, a night at Topgolf, a few rounds of miniature golf, or even axe throwing! In case you were feeling extra romantic and wanted to plan a night IN, just be aware that 20 minutes of sexual activity can burn 100 to 200 calories (should we call it “sexercise?!”)!

Learn something new. – Everyone can get bored sometimes, so changing up your exercise routine from time to time can be helpful in keeping you engaged with your activity and motivated to continue.  Push outside your comfort zone and try an activity you’ve never tried before.  As you lose weight, be proactive about using your lighter and smaller body to try some physical challenges you have never been able to do before!  Maybe you’ve always wanted to learn martial arts or yoga but have never had the confidence to try.  You may find it more comfortable to try it out on your own at first. There are plenty of free exercise videos online that could guide you through a new routine right in your own home.  Go to YouTube and search for an activity you want to try, and you can choose a routine with just the right difficulty level and duration you need.

Get in touch with nature. – if you enjoy being outside, there are so many enjoyable outdoor exercise options like swimming, walking, biking, playing ball, jogging, skating and more.  Be mindful that during extreme weather conditions and temperatures when it’s not realistic for you to be outdoors, have a back-up plan for getting your activity indoors.  

Being outdoors on a regular basis is very important for mental health, physical health and overall improvement of mood and energy. Also, since the sun is the only natural source of vitamin D, a very important micronutrient that’s used in many different functions in the body, it’s important to get a little bit of sun exposure each day (aim for around 15 minutes, wear sunscreen for any exposure beyond 15 minutes per day).

Enjoy some alone time. – This is something that gets me personally engaged with exercise.  Using time walking outside or working out at the gym alone gives me an opportunity to meditate, plan, and even pray without disruption.  I have come to truly appreciate the opportunity to go off on my own, honoring my body and providing meaningful self-care on a regular basis.  It’s something that nobody is requiring me to do, but rather I am choosing to do it for ME.  Even though it requires some self-accountability, there are some real benefits to exercising by yourself, and it can provide the kind of fulfillment that many patients had been searching for in food.  When you engage in regular exercise, you are not only managing your weight, but you are also managing stress, improving sleep, and increasing overall energy which are all necessary to sustain a healthy weight and lifestyle.

When you are trying to find a way to get exercise in your life, start by asking yourself a few questions:  What are the things that you LOVE doing? Do you love being outdoors? Do you laugh and have fun every time you’re with your friends? Do you enjoy taking road trips on the weekends? Do you love dancing or going to parties? Each one of these things could incorporate exercise so that physical activity will become something you also look forward to, because it’s part of something else that you love.

Learn to think of exercise differently. Instead of thinking of it as something you HAVE to do, think of ways that you WANT to incorporate activity into other parts of your life.  If you can do this, exercise will become a regular habit whose benefits you won’t want to miss.